May 2011

THE MOST FAMOUS VOICE AT COMMUNITY FIELD (IT’S NOT MINE)

Burlington Bees Public Address Announcer Nathan McCoy has simple explanation for why he got a Bees tattoo back in 2008.

“I said if we make it to the championship I will get a Bees logo tattoo,” explained McCoy. “By the time we made it to the playoffs I was fairly confident we would make it to the championship so I went ahead and got the tattoo.”

Nate lives and dies with the Bees. When you walk into Community Field to take in a game, his enthusiastic voice welcomes you. He brings a joy and passion to the ballpark that is certainly infectious.

He has done his job for six seasons and has plenty of favorite memories, most of which have nothing to do with the baseball on the field. His favorite moment had to do with an error he made back in 2007 involving the pronunciation of a famous baseball last name.

“That day when we were playing I didn’t go down to the (visiting) radio booth and go over (the pronunciations of the Great Lakes players). When the player came up to bat, I said ‘Ma-ting-ly.’ Chuck (Brockett, Bees General Manager) immediately got on the radio and said ‘do you know who Don Mattingly is? THAT’S HIS SON!”

“Two years later a scout came up to me and asked are you the guy who said Preston Ma-ting-ly?”

“Yes, unfortunately that’s me,” said Nate.

“That’s really awesome!” the scout said.

Nate also provides his talents in other ways that go beyond public address announcing.

“Chuck has called upon me to help with our raccoon problem here at the ballpark,” said Nate, who estimates he owns at least a dozen guns, (all licensed of course).

“If you look closely there are visible bullet holes all around the ballpark,” he said with a sly grin.

RANDOM THOUGHTS: How quickly things can change? With the recent promotion of RHP A.J. Griffin and LHP Jacob Brown, the Bees quickly lost two of the top five pitchers in the Midwest League. If last night’s performance of RHP Jose Macias in Beloit is any indication of what they got in return, the Bees will be just fine the rest of the way. Macias, who was promoted from extended spring training to replace Brown, retired the first nine batters he faced and did not allow a hit through the first five innings as the Bees won 9-0.

I make a point of calling my grandparents every day if I can. They’re in their 90’s and live back in my hometown in Connecticut. While grandma worries about the fact that no one cooks for me, (she doesn’t understand how the George Foreman grill works!) and thinks I’m losing consistently losing weight, grandpa and I always talk baseball. Grandpa, or “Pops” as I call him, always asks about the team. They don’t have the Internet and get their scores from the local paper so they have no way of following the Bees.

One thing grandpa likes to do is read so I try to send him articles and programs and the occasional media guide. A couple of weeks before the start of our season, the Royals mistakenly sent us a whole box of media guides. I grabbed a Royals media guide and sent it in the mail to “Pops.” When I speak to him, he always asks about the results of the previous Bees game. When I talked to him today in Beloit, I mentioned the Bees won last night.

He says “Oh, they’re 31-and-14. They only  46 games all of last year. They almost have as many wins this season as they did last season.”

Not bad for 92.

WHAT A START!

Dear Bees Fans,

What a start it has been for your Burlington Bees. As I sit in the office a few hours before catching the bus to Cedar Rapids to continue the series with the Kernels tonight, the Burlington Bees lead the Midwest League with an 18-7 record. It’s been fun to watch. The pitching has been extremely solid, with a starting staff led by Blake Hassebrock who just gave up his first earned run in 27.1 innings in the sixth inning last night. Unfortunately that was the last run that scored for quite a while!

The Bees and Kernels played and played last night FOR 17 INNINGS!!! It’s strange when you get a game that goes that long.  You end up talking for so long it’s almost as if you simply root for the game to be over!!!! (DISCLAIMER: AS LONG AS THE BEES WIN).

Unfortunately that was not the case. After the game ended a few minutes short of the five hour mark in the 17th inning, the players and coaches went to the locker room at Perfect Game Field and quietly ate the Jimmy John’s sandwiches that had been ordered for them 3 hours before. They lazily sleep walked onto the bus with their uniforms on and made the hour and a half trek back to Burlington where they rolled off the bus shortly after 2:00 a.m. Because the trip to Cedar Rapids is so short, the players and coaches do not shower and dress in Cedar Rapids.

With such a long night at the office and (rather conveniently) a forecast of rain, the bus has been pushed back to late afternoon. There will be no early work for the Bees, just a chance to put their uniforms on and show up and play.

It’s been an immense pleasure watching this team work. Six of the top 10 draft picks from the Oakland A’s 2010 draft are here in Burlington and there are a lot of interesting stories behind all of the players on this year’s team. It’s my goal with this blog to take you inside the team, to give you a bird’s eye view on what it’s like being around the ballpark and the players.

I look forward to telling you about many great things going on with this team and our organization. It’s been a great ride so far and promises to be a great summer.

All the Best,

Jon Versteeg